Scene 3 Chipokababoli (name of a river)
Abuya- Grandmother in tumbuka
makombwe- Phoka word for bananas.
vidokoni- Fables and folktales
There is a river in front of them it has pots inside. There is a hut in the background. Wamaka has an Impala on her shoulders.
Yal: Why do we have to sacrifice to the river?
Wam: (Exasperated) Do you know nothing? If we do not sacrifice to the river one of us or both might drown. The spirit that lives in the river is always looking for a wife. If we give it a sacrifice it will be so distracted with the game it will let us pass. (she moves the impala from her shoulders to her arms)
Wamaka kneels down, placing the impala in the river.
Wamaka: Spare us, spare us, you from the wind
Spare us, spare us simple mortals
Take our humble offering instead.
Spare us as we cross your waters.
She rises slowly, and crosses, stepping on the pots placed in the river. Yalenga follows slowly. They see an Gogo Nyauzembe with long dreads walking in front of them with a pot on her head.
Yal: Abuya, Let me carry that for you.
The Gogo Nyauzembe turns, laughing and lowers the pot. Yalenga picks it up and places it on her head.
Gogo Nyauzembe: (smiles exposing her toothless gums) Thank you sweet child.
They follow her to her hut which isn’t far off. They enter the hut.
Gogo Nyauzembe: Could I trouble you again my children?
Yal: Of course Abuya.
Gogo Nyauzembe: Could you draw water from me in these pots.
Yalenga and Wamaka take the pots. They are outside her hut and out of her hearing range.
Wam: (In annoyed tone) Why did you do that?
Yal: Do what?
Wam: Take the pot from that woman.
Yal: (Shocked) Where were you brought up? In Nkhamanga we serve the old.
Wam: She is crazy! Did you see her hair?
Yalenga: Okay, her hair is a little weird but aside from that she seems okay to me.
Wam: She could be a witch! Or a spirit from the mountain! Yalenga I do not feel comfortable staying with her.
Yal: (In a mocking tone) Don’t be paranoid Ulumba. She is just an old lady.
They return to the Gogo Nyauzembe’s hut. They find her sweeping her hut with her long dreads. Wamaka gives Yalenga a look. The Gogo Nyauzembe sings a song to herself.
Yal: We have returned Abuya.
Gogo Nyauzembe: The makombwe are ready (pointing at cooked bananas wrapped in banana leaves). Help yourself my dears.
They serve themselves makombwe. They settle down in her hut.
Gogo Nyauzembe: The moon is full. He must be with Nyazuulaninge tonight.
Wam: What does that mean?
Yal: (half laughing) Wamaka do you know nothing? (Yalenga laughs heartily and so does Wamaka). Moon has two wives: Nyazulaninge and Nyavipenge. Nyazuulaninge is a good hostess but a bad cook. She lets her guests remove food from the fire even if it is not yet ready. Whenever moon is with her he is fat. Nyavipyenge is a stern hostess and a good cook. She does not allow her guests to remove the pot from the fire before the food is ready. Moon is always thin when it is with her. Have I left anything out Abuya?
Gogo Nyauzembe: No my child.
Wamaka: I must sleep now. We still have much ground to cover.
Yalenga yawns. All fall asleep. In the background Yalenga, Nyauzembe and Wamaka can be seen sleeping. On stage Yalenga is sleeping to show she is dreaming. Simeda enters the hut and wakes Yalenga.
Simeda: Sangwani wake up.
Simeda: Why did you leave me?
Yalenga: Staying in Nkhamanga made me unhappy.
Simeda: Where are you going?
Yal: Kaulimi. I would have asked you to come with me but I knew you would not accept.
Simeda: You are correct. Oh Sangwani I miss you terribly.
Yal: I miss you too Ankhazi (they embrace).
Simeda: Be careful where you are. Khataza has sent a Mzengeli well versed in dark magic to bring you back. Khataza rummaged our hut for any item of yours. He took a necklace you had left behind. The Kuwuna is using it to track you. The Induna intend to hang you in front of the whole village to make an example of you.
Yalenga wakes up and falls back asleep. She wakes up and walks outside the hut where Wamaka and Nyauzembe are.
Nyauzembe: May you path be filled with bliss, I hope you come again.
Wamaka and Yalenga walk then after a short distance Wamaka turns.
Wam: Someone is following us.
Wamaka draws her spear.
Kuwuna: I’m not here for you. I’m here for Khataza’s bride.
Wamaka: Where do you intend to take her?
Kuwuna: Back to her fiancé. He is waiting for you.
Yalenga: I do not want to go back.
Yalenga hides behind Wamaka.
Kuwuna: Sadly you have no choice in the matter.
Wamaka: You will have to kill me first if you want to take her.
Kuwuna: What an honour to fight a Kaulimi warrior.
Wam: Run Yalenga!
Wamaka and the Kuwuna are involved in combat. Wamaka keeps avoiding Kuwuna’s touch, he keeps trying to touch her. She uses her spear to block his hand from touching her. She bruises him. Yalenga rans and then trips, this distracts Wamaka. The Kuwuna touches her elbow. Wamaka screams and becomes a pile of jelly-like substance. Her eyes are popping out of her body. Yalenga starts to cry. The Kuwuna soon captures her.
Kuwuna: Lucky for you, Khataza wants you alive, so I won’t be removing your bones. (Laughs sadistically)
Yal: What have you done to my friend? (Pointing to Wamaka) Give her back her bones!
Kuwuna drags her into the woods. Yalenga awakens this time screaming. She walks outside the hut to find the Gogo Nyauzembe staring at the moon.
Gogo Nyauzembe: How is Ankhazi?
Yalenga: How do you…You sent those dreams to me? Are they real?
Gogo Nyauzembe: Yes.
Yalenga: Does that mean that Ankhazi had the same dream as mine?
Gogo Nyauzembe nods her head. Yalenga sits down.
Yal: So Wamaka really dies?
Abuya: Yes. Stay with me child. I will clock you with a spell The Kuwuna will not be able to track you.
Wamaka: I would love to stay but I have to go.
Wamaka rushes outside the hut.
Wam: Let’s go! (Grabbing Yalenga’s hand and pulling her away)
Yal: (Yalenga pulls her hand away from Wamaka) What? Why? It’s not even dawn yet.
Wam: Its almost dawn lets go.
Yalenga: Abuya forgive my companion for her bad manners. I must leave.
Abuya: If you go, you will both die!
Wamaka keeps running dragging Yalenga with her.
Yal: Why were you so nasty to her? It is not polite to leave someone’s home before dawn.
Wam: I heard you scream in your sleep. She sent you a nightmare too. Didn’t she?
Yal: They were more than dreams! They were prophetic.
Wam: They were tricks Yalenga, tricks to make us stay there. Have you not heard of the Phoka? They are lonely people; all that solitude gets to their heads. They use magic to make whoever is foolish enough to be their guest stay. She was trying to convince you that the world is a dangerous place and only her hut is safe. I’ve heard that at dawn the door to their hut disappears and the guest is trapped in there forever.
Yal: The dream she sent me was real.
Wam: I know it’s your second nature to be naïve but this once can you not! She sent us those dreams to manipulate us into staying with her.
Yal: What dream did she send you?
Wam: I dreamt I got beaten by a poisonous snake.
Yal: How do you know that won’t happen?
Wam: Because she was trying to make us stay there. Did you see her sweeping her hut with her hair she is senile!
Wamaka is bitten by a snake which Yalenga sees. Wamaka screams.
Yalenga grabs Wamaka’s arm and starts pulling her the direction the snake went.
Wamaka: Why are you pulling me in the direction of the snake? You want it to bite me again.
Yal: It’s the way to river. (Continuing to drag Wamaka). Just come with me.
They arrive at the river.
Yalenga: Get in quickly.
Wam: Why? This makes no sense?
Yalenga: Don’t argue! We have no time! Get in!
Wamaka gets in reluctantly.
Yalenga: Submerge yourself completely. Wash where the bite is.
Wamaka does so reluctantly. Wamaka gets out of the water.
Wam: (breathless) Why all this?
Yal: Nkhomi is a river snake. When it bites you, if you get to a river before it does, you live and it dies. But if it gets into the river before you, you die.
Wam: That woman sent this snake.
Yal: She did not.
Wam: I’ve travelled through these parts countless times and I’ve never been bitten by this snake. It’s no coincidence, she sent the only snake I have no knowledge of. She sent this as punishment for making you leave her.
Yal: I refuse to believe that. She is a nice old lady. The dreams she sent us were merely warnings of what is to come. (Touches Wamaka’s hair) Your braids have unravelled, let me redo them.
Wamaka sits and Yalenga kneels beside her and starts braiding her hair.
Wam: You have a gentle hand. You’ve clearly done this several times.
Yal: I used to braid my mother’s hair and she would braid mine. My hair would cover my back just like yours.
Wam: Why did you cut it?
Yal: The Ngoni women had nasty hair because of their long travel to here they did not take care of it. It was matted. They were jealous of our lustrous kinky tresses. So they cut it all off. (stops plaiting). My hair was my only connection to my mother. I wept for many suns after they cut it. They were so happy to have broken our only connection to our loved ones.
Wamaka: It will grow back.
Yal: But it won’t be the hair my mother, ran her fingers through while knitting it into intricate lines telling me vidokoni so I wouldn’t notice the time slipping away. It will be new hair. (continues plaiting).
Lights switch off and on. At the far left of the stage is Yalenga’s mother plaiting Yalenga’s long coily hair.
Towera: Long ago, when the moon had but one wife the Akafula lived with animals as one. One day, an akafula died. The humans and animals were confused so sent Chameleon to go ask Chauta what this meant.
Lights switch on and off. At the centre of the stage are men and animals miming the action of sending chameleon to Chauta. Chameleon walks slowly to Chauta. Towera’s voice narrates as the action is mimed.
Towera: The almighty Chauta father of all, told Chameleon that men and animals will die in living.
Yalenga: Die in living what did he mean by that Amama?
Towera: He meant they would die and live again. The animals and humans grew tired of waiting for chameleon to return so they despatched another messenger lizard. Lizard being the agile soon reached Chauta. Chauta, angry at having to repeat himself changed his mind and told Lizard when people die they will remain dead and therefore must be buried. By this time chameleon had arrived, but he had forgotten the message. Soon lizard returned too and they buried the man. And that’s how death came to be.
Lights switch off and on again. Yalenga and Wam are at the centre of the stage. They are walking.
Wam: You have a gentle hand and yet your lines are firm (touching her hair).
Yalenga: Thank you. I would have loved to play with Abuya’s hair. It was so long!
Wam: (she laughs and stops suddenly) What did you dream in the crazy Gogo Nyauzembe’s hut?
Yalenga: I dreamt you were killed by a Kuwuna sent by Khataza to bring me back. And I dreamt about Ankhazi, she warned me that the elders want to hang me in front of the village to make an example of me.
Wam: I died? How?
Yal: I was running away and when I fell it distracted you and he touched you.
Wam: Who is Khataza?
Yalenga: He is the man I am betrothed to. The Ngoni are strange; Khataza has three wives already but he wants me to be his fourth. Our men never did such things. The Ngoni view women as cattle.
Wam: Is that why you ran?
Yal: Yes, and being in Nkhamanga reminded me of my parents and my brothers.
Yalenga and Wamaka stop walking just before a mountain. Wamaka slows her pace and so does Yalenga. They resume walking until they exit the stage.
So what do you think Gogonyauzembe actually is?
Do you think Wamaka’s fears were warranted?
Who do you think sent the snake? Do you think it was really sent?
Do you think the dreams Gogo Nyauzembe sent them were truly prophetic?
Chipokawawori- is a river in northern Malawi. I think alot of women would drown in it so it was named snatcher of wives.
Thanks for the votes and thanks for reading. Please don’t forget to vote and comment.